In the report named “Future of Open Source Survey” launched in mid-2015, the rising role of open source in the world of startups and companies was spelled. Over 75% of the participants pointed out that their companies were running their operations partially or completely on open-source software (OSS) while about 65% revealed that their companies generate client software on open-source. Let us see why open-source software is rising as a viable and efficient option for startups.
Advantages of Open-Source Software for Startups
What do startups look for? As a startup, you intend to initiate development without explosive spending. Open-source software is ideal to start off as it can be freely used, modified or shared by anyone. You can look for a team which is dedicated towards perfecting your software.
Features useful for startups: When you use open-source software, the code is accessible to public. A web of developers across the world, pool in their resources to handle and build your software. This not only ensures a constant inflow of improvisation but also a series of diverse solutions for any bugs or issues that might arise.
The prime benefit of using open-source software is that it treats the software like the brainchild of the community. Sameer Sortur, the founder of SquareCircle Tech (Dubai) pointed out that we are moving towards a revolution of Free Open-Source Software (FOSS) where softwares will be the children of universal development. The quality of products produced through open-source development is higher owing to the fact that developers from different kinds of technical backgrounds are working on it. Owing to the transparent way in which OSS works, companies can trust the platform and not worry about suspension of service or high license fees.
Let us take the case of CodeCombat, which is a programming game which teaches you to code. It became the largest open-source CoffeeScript project about three years ago. Recalling their experience of entering the open-source software world, Nick pointed out that their initial worry was that no contributors would turn up to develop their software. However, within the first month, they reached over 60k views packed with over 130 pull requests and 50 contributors. CodeCombat names its open-source army of developers ‘Archmages’. Quantifying the amount of contribution made by each during the first month, they mention: upgradation of i18n tags, bug-fixing, automation of Windows dev environment, addition of new tests, reorganization of server modules, upgradation from Bootstrap 2 to Bootstrap 3, resolving of security problems and major addition of CoffeeScript support to the transpiler.
Those who have countered that CodeCombat received such a positive response only because it was a game can be directed to the range of case studies of open-source software used by well-established companies: Mahindra Comviva, AskMeBazaar, Zopper, Meru, ING Vyasa Bank and Book My Show.
Future of OSS
In 2015, the predictions on open-source included containerization, setting of new stage for networks, OpenFlow products, application of IoT to boost open-source, higher emphasis on the infrastructure and open-source mobility. Marius Maoscovici, the CEO of Metric Insights remarked that no company including giants like Microsoft and Apple can ignore the role of OSS, especially in tune with Apple’s decision to open-source the Swift programming language.
In 2016, open source will become the tradition of IT marked with uniform distribution. Matt Asay, in his piece “Open source near ubiquitous in IoT, report finds” points out that over 50% of the IoT developers contribute at least a component to the stack. North Bridge partner Paul Santinelli remarked that open-source plays a huge role in sustenance of the technology sector. Over 50% of the participants in 10th Annual Future of Open Source Survey believe that participation in the open-source domain lends a competitive edge while about a third revealed that they had committed full-time resources to the open-source projects. While the numbers are still rolling in, it is undeniable that open-source software has entered IT with a sweeping force and will determine the future of many companies to come.
Challenges to OSS
Who are the developers? The amount of open-source contributions reflect the number of contributors. Check that the open-source contributions made by a developer have been accepted by the community. The hiring manager can access the developer’s publicly available code at GitHub. In case you decide to go with web services, then you can choose Balsamiq, GitHub and Travis CI which are free of cost for open-source projects.
Is it secure? One of the pertinent worries about using open-source projects is that there might be security vulnerabilities. Generally, the security on open-source systems is higher than on proprietary operating system because Linux maintains a strict distinction between the administrative and general user accounts. Even though open-source operating systems are still vulnerable to the general security issues like weak passwords, the vulnerability is always confined to the general user account and doesn’t expand to the entire system.
The underlying spirit of open-source community is the not-for-profit outlook where it is held that technological benefits should be accessible to all sections of the society. This reduces the hurdle developing countries have to face in the process of building their infrastructure. Building software as a community also creates space for innovations and originality.
Thus, a startup is greatly advantaged by the use of open-source software owing to the lack of cost in development, higher security, consistent upgrading and improvisation and its notion of community development.